As Euro fever begins to bite, a popular food festival returns to Whitley Bay this weekend offering tasty treats from all over the world.
The third Proper Food and Drink Festival takes place at the Spanish City Plaza from 10am until 5pm this Saturday and Sunday. Entrance is free and as well as 100 stalls there are cooking demonstrations and live music.
“We’ve got something for everybody. Whether you wish to get away from the football, want to buy something tasty for the match, or the Euros have given you a taste for the exotic,” said organiser Mark Deakin from New Hartley.
Euro hosts France are well represented by exhibitors – including Passion du Fromage and The French Oven – who take who take their inspiration from Gallic cuisine. Flying the flag for Italy is Earth and Fire Pizza from Whitley Bay and amongst the producers banging the drum for England are home favourites Geordie Bakers, the Northumberland Cheese Company and award-winning North Chocolates.
“We don’t stop at Europe,” said Mark. “We’ve got food from South America, the Far East and India.” Papa Ganoush Street Food, which has just announced plans to open its first restaurant in Whitley Bay, will also provide a tempting taste of the Middle East.
Mark and his wife and fellow organiser Shelley are fresh from a record-breaking Proper Food and Drink Festival in South Shields over the May Bank Holiday.
“We try to bring events to places which don’t normally have them and make it a great day out. So although it’s all about creating an opportunity for artisan producers, we also provide live music to make it a real party atmosphere,” said Mark.
As former food producers themselves the couple recognise how important their festivals are for suppliers.
“When we started the Hot Stuff Chilli Company we used to be bottling until 2am and heading off to a festival three hours later to sell, so we know how hard everybody works,” said Shelley. Their sauces were so popular they were stocked by major retailers including Selfridges and Fenwick’s.
The Northumberland Sausage Company, which is coming to Whitley Bay after a successful three days in South Shields, says its business has grown as a result of events like the Proper Food and Drink Festivals. Its events manager Mel Hawkins said: We now have three shops but the festivals are the most important thing we do. That’s where people get the chance to taste what we make but there’s also time for a chat and a chance to build a bit of rapport.”
North Tyneside will host another Proper Food and Drink Festival on 20 and 21 August when it moves to North Shields. Before then it is being held for the first time in Cramlington, on 30 and 31 July.